Are comparison sites failing consumers?

Are comparison sites failing consumers?

To what extent are price comparison websites in the insurance sector failing consumers’ expectations and breaching regulatory standards? Jessica Arrol, solicitor in the financial services team at Speechly Bircham, comments following a recent review by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and says the FCA has made clear that its review has relevance across the board for comparison services for other financial services products.

A number of price comparison websites in the general insurance sector are failing to meet consumers’ expectations of them and, in some cases the FCA’s regulatory standards according to the regulator’s newly published thematic review. The FCA has asked price comparison websites to take action on the issues identified by the review to guarantee they are meeting the required standards to ensure customers get a product which meets their needs.

What is the background to the review?

The thematic review of price comparison websites in the insurance sector follows on from guidance published by
the Financial Services Authority on the same subject in 2011. The FCA felt it was necessary to carry out a review of the current state of the sector because the use of price comparison websites by consumers for the purchase of general insurance products has become increasingly popular. In fact, the FCA estimates that around one third of all motor policies written in 2013 were sold through price comparison websites. In carrying out the review the FCA wanted to ensure that price comparison websites were delivering fair outcomes to consumers despite their increased popularity.

What was the scope of the review?

The review was carried out between December 2013 and April 2014 and focused on price comparison websites offering retail general insurance products such as private motor, home and travel insurance as these are the types of insurance that are most commonly purchased through a comparison site.

The FCA was focused on looking at whether customers were being given appropriate information to allow them to make an informed decision and to understand the

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